An appeal against refusal of planning permission for the demolition of the Henry Jenkins has been dismissed by a Government Planning Inspector.
The Inspector, John Morrison, said he was not convinced that the potential re-use of the Henry Jenkins as a going concern had been sufficiently investigated – and that the owner had left the building in “very oppressive, dark and sorry state.”
His decision follows an appeal hearing in Harrogate on January 31st. Mr Fielder claimed that the Henry Jenkins was no longer viable as a pub and that the council was wrong to refuse planning permission last February for demolition and redevelopment of the site with housing.
However, the Henry Jenkins Community Co-op argued that it was Mr Fielder himself who had ensured the pub was not viable by deliberately degrading the building, by failing to properly market it as a pub – and by refusing legitimate offers from prospective purchasers.
Mr Morrison agreed that the Henry Jenkins had not been marketed sufficiently as a pub – and that this was compounded by the stripping out of the pub’s interior. He said in his Appeal Decision letter: “The appellant has stated that this was to present a blank canvas to show what prospective purchasers or renters could do but I struggle to reconcile this argument.
“Certainly, my experience of the building from my site visit presented something of an unfinished interior strip which also seems to have removed internal walls and doors without sufficient justification.
“This has resulted in showing a very oppressive, dark and sorry state that, in my view, would be more likely to put off potential interest than necessarily garner it.”
He said the decision by the council to refuse planning permission was in line with policies designed to maintain viable and sustainable communities – particularly in rural areas – by ensuring people had access to a wide variety of locally based community facilities. He also dismissed suggestions that the car park was too small to make the pub viable.
Since that decision the case for maintaining the Henry Jenkins as a community facility had been further strengthened by widespread support for plans for a community buyout. “There seems to be a very real possibility, on the strength of what I have seen, that there are options to re-use the Henry Jenkins in a sustainable way.”
This was supported by the fact that a fully funded offer to buy the pub for £180,000 was made in December by the Henry Jenkins Community Co-op.
“What the work of the HJCC shows … in the shape of the level of interest, the money that has been committed and the initial national funding secured is that there is not only a clear demand and strong willingness to re-use the HJ for community purposes but also the proverbial money being put where the mouth is,” Mr Morrison said.
“Whichever way one would like to look at it, £180,000 is not a small amount of money when it is committed from local people.”
The Inspector acknowledged that concerns had been raised over a possible conflict between a revived Henry Jenkins and the Mechanics Institute. However he concluded that the two facilities should be able to complement one another.
“Notwithstanding there may be some competing sales, there seems to be no clear reason why the two could not operate harmoniously, operating complimentary services,” he said.
- HJCC would like to restate that our offer is still open to buy the Henry Jenkins for £180,000, its full market price as determined by a professional Valuation Report. We remain ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.The full text of the Planning Inspector’s Decision Letter can be seen here.